In collaboration with more than twenty business councils from around the world, Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (KIZAD), a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Ports, brought together more than 500 companies, investors, officials and diplomats to discuss investment opportunities in KIZAD and Khalifa Port Free Trade Zone (KPFTZ), the largest free zone in the Middle East.
The series of exclusive business and networking events culminated in the signature of two Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Abu Dhabi Ports and the Russian Trade and Economic Development Council, on one side, and the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, on the other. Both agreements aimed at raising awareness among Russian and Chinese companies about the opportunities offered by KIZAD and KPFTZ.
Reflecting on the value of such gatherings for potential investors and businesses, Captain Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, Chief Executive Officer of Abu Dhabi Ports, said: “With a growing number of free zones being launched across the Middle East, differentiation and customer dedication are paramount. More than 130 investors have already trusted us by setting up their home base in KIZAD. We want to continue creating win-win opportunities for expanding businesses in a wide range of sectors by really listening to their needs. Our end goal is to offer tailored industrial and logistic solutions with highly competitive advantages coupled with world-class infrastructure”.
Fahad Al Ahbabi, Director at the newly launched Abu Dhabi Investment Office, joined forces with ‘KIZAD Business Week’ to provide a detailed overview of the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, shedding light on how economic diversification is bringing massive benefits to investors in the UAE and the emirate of Abu Dhabi. He shared insights about the economic policies driving the emirate’s diversification agenda stressing that; “Gatherings such as ‘KIZAD Business Week’ contribute to the emirate’s strategy for diversification. They help raise awareness, not only about the concrete business opportunities offered by KIZAD and KPFTZ, but also within the emirate of Abu Dhabi and across sectors as varied as healthcare, food and beverage, finance, hospitality, IT and construction. We have been delighted to be part of such a successful initiative and hope we will be joining forces again in the near future”.
‘KIZAD Business Week’ was organised in collaboration with the Russian Business Council, American Chamber of Abu Dhabi, Chinese Business Council, Indian Business and Professional Council, Pakistan Business Council, Australian Business Council and the South African Business Council in Abu Dhabi. The German Emirati Joint Council for Industry & Commerce took the lead in coordinating with each of the European business councils including from Austria, Sweden, the UK, France, Netherlands, Italy, Finland, Norway and Spain. The American Chamber of Abu Dhabi, AmCham, took the lead in coordinating with the Canadian Business Council Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the Chilean Embassy in Abu Dhabi, ProEcuador, ProMexico, the Embassy of the Republic of Panama and the Embassy of Uruguay.
During the panel discussions, participants agreed that diversification remains one of the major drivers for the continued expansion of the UAE economy. In that context, free zones represent one of the key tools to attract foreign direct investments and creating jobs.
‘KIZAD Business Week’ took place from Sunday 18 to Wednesday 21 March.
China is the UAE’s top trade partner – with trade between the two economies crossing $35 billion in the first 9 months of 2017. Captain Wang Song, Chairman of Chinese Business Council said: “We look forward to more occasions where representatives from Abu Dhabi Ports and companies from China can come together to discuss the new trends and shifts in global economy as well as how to best capitalise on them.”
Last year, Abu Dhabi Ports signed a 50-year agreement with the Jiangsu province in China, bringing in AED 1.1 billion into the Khalifa Port Free Trade Zone in Abu Dhabi. Commenting on the evolution of the project, Luo Hia, Chairman of the Jiangsu Provincial Overseas Cooperation and Investment Company Limited (JOCIC) said: “JOCIC and KIZAD maintain excellent relationships regarding the investment policies of the China-UAE industrial capacity cooperation demonstration zone. We have deployed a very good coordination mechanism for pushing forward the construction of the Demonstration Zone. We are convinced that given the conducive business environment in the UAE, the efforts made by KIZAD as well as the high importance attached to the Demonstration Zone by the Jiangsu provincial government, more and more Chinese companies will decide to invest in the Demonstration Zone in the near future.”
Mr. Hia, who is also, President of COSCO Shipping West Asia LLC, added: “As a Chinese company operating in the UAE, what we value the most about KIZAD and its free trade zone are the flexible policies, inclusive culture, win-win cooperation as well as the advantageous location. All these factors help us not only to grow locally but look at the UAE as a platform to expand our business to the GCC, North Africa, East Africa and Middle Asia.”
Saleh Al Aroud, President of the Russian Business Council, added: “The UAE offers high level infrastructure and logistics hubs such as KIZAD and KPFTZ which enable the country to compete in the global economy. Russian investors are always keen to look for opportunities in the UAE. I am confident that even brighter days are ahead of us for both of our countries.”
“In 2017, trade between the United States and the UAE totaled at $24.3 billion, with the U.S. exporting $20 billion to the UAE. In addition, the UAE is among the fastest growing sources of foreign direct investment in the US,” said Sharief Fahmy, Chairman at AmCham Abu Dhabi. “The U.A.E. continues to be a beacon of prosperity and shining light in the Middle East. In that sense, KIZAD and KPFTZ are positioned to play a pivotal role in the continued expansion of the U.A.E. economy. We hope to keep building a long-standing business relationship.”
The UAE is home to a vibrant Indian community made of an estimated 2.6 million people. Among them, there are numerous stories of business successes. Suresh Kumar, President of Indian Business and Professional Council, highlighted: “Khalifa Port is one of the most important ports in the UAE, offering great opportunities for business. Particularly interesting is the fact that KIZAD is also home to Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA), the biggest industrial company in the country. We are happy to support Abu Dhabi Ports and KIZAD in their endeavours to attract and nurture the growth benefit of Indian business.”
Felix Neugart, CEO, German Emirati Joint Council for Industry & Commerce (AHK): “Trade is a vital link between the UAE and the European Union. Free zones are at the very heart of the success of the UAE as it establishes itself as a hub for trade and logistics in the world. We see a lot of potential in KIZAD and Khalifa Port Free Trade zone, located strategically between the Emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, as dynamic trade and logistics hubs providing many possibilities for development.”
“With trade, logistics, and manufacturing at the core, KIZAD creates value through integrated service offerings that spans various industrial and logistic clusters. Without any doubt, the integration of KIZAD and KPFTZ with Khalifa Port, one of the world’s most advanced deep-sea ports, is one of the main advantages of the trade and industrial hub. We were delighted to work with our partners at Abu Dhabi Ports and KIZAD to create value for our members”, added Ahmed Shaikhani, President of Pakistan Business Council.
Carl Dowling, Chairman of the Australian Business Council stressed from his side: “We have strong ties with the UAE, specially Abu Dhabi. We are therefore delighted to have partnered with KIZAD and Abu Dhabi Ports. It is a fantastic opportunity to learn more about their latest initiatives. These types of gatherings are essential to continue developing our business relationships.”
Andre Du Plessis, Representative of the South African Business Council in Abu Dhabi (SABCO), closed the ‘KIZAD Business Week’ series by stressing: “The diversification of Abu Dhabi’s economy, from hospitality to food & beverage, textile, construction and healthcare has been well received by business across the world, including South African business. Our aim remains to assist people by facilitating corporate interactions. We see SABCO as an integral tool to connect the UAE and South Africa. We are excited about the upcoming initiatives and eager to continue our collaboration.”